Arable farming represents the largest agricultural sector in the EU in terms of acreage (60% in 2013) and number of primary production holdings. The sector has important ambitions, such as increasing production for food, feed, bio-based products and energy with the same or less input. At the same time, the sector faces several challenges. Stopping loss of soil fertility, prevent the pollution of groundwater and tackle disease/weed resistance for example. Against this background, a more sustainable food value chain is a necessity.
IoT technology enables precision farming. In the use cases we link existing sensor networks, earth observations systems, crop growth models and yield gap analysis tools to a variety of databases. This combination of information creates effective, standardized actuation protocols (‘task maps’) for machines and robots. Focusing on the cultivation of three main crops (wheat, soybeans and potatoes), in different European regions and climate zones, the trial includes activities along the cropping cycle. With the help of IoT technologies, data on key variables such as the soil, climate conditions, growth of plants and weed, disease or pest prevalence can be combined in a meaningful way.
The innovative farm management systems in the arable farming trial address urgent challenges, such as the efficient use of pesticides, fertilizers and energy. The smart combination of data also enhances transparency and food safety along the food chain.
Interview with the Arable Trial Chair – Corné Kempenaar, Scientist precision agriculture Wageningen Plant Reasearch